Monday, 10 June 2013

Two year anniversary

Image taken by Leo Reynolds
My boyfriend believes that blogging is mostly self-indulgent waffle-tosh of little value to anyone else. Usually I disagree with him on this topic, but I’m afraid this post may well prove him right…

 Last week marked the second anniversary in my current job. It gave me cause to ponder the last two years and all that has happened since I left my last post. I found redundancy to be a very traumatic experience and hope I never have to go through it again. It affected me in all manner of ways I didn’t think possible; the majority of these are too personal to share in a public blog, but I admit I found it distressing and fundamentally sad. I refused to take redundancy lying down and treated finding a new job like going to war – I was determined to succeed and go out fighting. I managed to secure a new post within 10 weeks but will long remember the feelings of sheer relief and utter elation. When I received the call telling me I was the successful candidate, I’m embarrassed to say I actually jumped with joy!

The decision to change jobs being out of my control was a big thing for me and meant lots of changes. My new job meant going from a 4 mile round trip to a 65-80 mile round trip – something which took almost a year to settle into. To my mind, commuting such a daily distance is less than ideal: the high cost of petrol, the guilt of an increased carbon footprint, the time spent in the car, the lack of time at home, the negative effect on your evenings, the boredom of inane radio shows, the frustration of being stuck in motorway rush-hour jams, the tiredness and loneliness it generates. However, it took time but I have adapted. I use the commute as down time and relax by listening to audio books and radio plays. My boyfriend surprised me with a Bluetooth earpiece so we could chat whilst I was driving. I spend approximately 15 hours a week commuting to/from work, and – whilst I will never ‘like’ it – I’ve learnt how to make the most of this time.

The new job meant changing sectors. Although I had worked in an FE library before, I had been out of the loop for 6 years whilst I worked in a school. Although I trusted my abilities, I was worried about my lack of sector knowledge. It meant learning different jargon terms and different curriculums and new tools. When I first started, I was constantly asking the team questions and it took probably the best part of a year before I felt at ease with my performance at work. No longer being the head of a department took a while to get used to. I’m fine with taking directions from someone, but I had to remember to check with the head librarian before just going off on a tangent. I was used to thinking and acting, and whilst the head librarian gives me an almost free reign to do what I think right, I have to remember the final say is no longer mine and officially I am no longer a line manager. Again, it took a while, but I’ve learnt to enjoy the freedom that comes with less responsibility. Another difference was the size of the team. In the school library, I worked with one part-time assistant whereas here I joined a team of ten. Joining a team which has long been established can be quite difficult, especially when your position is slightly senior to everyone except the head of department. It was interesting observing the dynamics of the team and how everyone interacts with each other. I much prefer working in a team of this size and enjoy bouncing areas around. Having been here two years is small fry compared to the majority of the team; one lady has been here over thirty years and everyone else seems to have 10+ years’ service each. There are times when knowing the past policies of the library is useful in my role and I am lucky that the team as a whole contains a wealth of such knowledge.

I remember feeling overwhelmed for the first six months I was in post. As Systems Librarian, my responsibilities cover the management of various tools within the library, and I was completely new to all of them. I had never heard of ClickView or MyPC and had never worked with Heritage before. The latter took up the most of my time and I was initially scared and intimidated by it. I was worried I would make mistakes and ‘break’ it. The turning point came when an IT Technician made a copy of our Heritage data and saved it to a memory stick. It meant I had a practice database I could play about with - deleting, adding, altering – without fear of damaging anything. That memory stick was worth its weight in gold; my confidence increased and so did my abilities. Once I felt confident with my Heritage and Heritage Online knowledge, I turned my attentions to MyPC software, and next on my hit list is ClickView.  Nowadays, I may not always know how to do something, but I trust my ability to work it out. I remember accidentally deleting every DVD from the catalogue and bursting into tears sitting next to an IT Technician. I see this as my lowest point in the job so far; not because I made a mistake, but because I let it get to me.    

I have learnt such a lot during my two years here. I’m not one to blow my own trumpet, but I feel I have developed a high level of competencies demanded by the role of Systems Librarian. As well as the various software packages I manage, my classification knowledge has tightened, my awareness of online tools has increased, my knowledge of FE and HE has improved, and my management skills are developing. I have enjoyed opportunities here I never thought would be open to me. My line manager supports my committee position on the local branch of CILIP and allows me time to attend meetings. The activities I do have provided me with contents for a handful of various newsletter articles. Also, securing a place on a study visit abroad exceeded my wildest dreams. I thought things such as study visits and articles and committee placements were reserved for the-best-of-the-best. My confidence has improved, my abilities have improved, my knowledge has improved, and I no longer feel unworthy of these things. I’ve worked through some interesting projects too – integrating software packages, developing a social media presence, moving to a new build, being interviewed by the Ofsted lead inspector. Each of these helped me to believe in myself a little bit more than I did before. This Summer I will be managing the migration from Heritage to Cirqa LMS, and the move from Athens to Shibboleth. Two years ago, these tasks would have filled me with fear, whereas now I think ‘bring it on!’

 A visitor spent the day with me at work last week. She is an LRC manager in a sixth-form college and is new to libraries. We met the previous month at an event and she asked if she could visit. I’m not sure how exactly, but at some point I had given her the impression our library was an example of good practice! I spent the day going through the basics of how we run our service and manage the catalogue. I remember too clearly how bewildering it feels moving to a new job where you are learning from scratch, and if I can share my experience to help someone feel a little less alone then I will gladly do so. I didn’t plan it to be so, but the actual day of my two year anniversary was spent sharing my job knowledge with this lady. When I realised this, it made me see how much I have developed. It has taken me two years to reach this stage, but I can now look back at my time here and see how much I have grown, and that makes me smile. 

And here lies the end of my ‘self-indulgent waffle-tosh of little value to anyone else’ post. Congrats if you read through to the end!


  1. Seems like you've had a two years to be very proud of - well done! :)

  2. Johnny 12 inch27 June 2013 at 12:50

    you missed out

    - rampant plagiarism when we copied half of some other birds assignment to get you through your chartership on the night before it had to be handed in.
    - The frequent return of Gilbert and an increased amount of snot on my shoulder.
    - The lecherous / slimey colleague(s) on Support Desk.